A New Story Representing Trials

This is a blog post I did on a facebook note in 2012 but I’m re-reading this and learning so much from the “past me” today.

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A New Story Representing Trials

April 3, 2012 at 9:47am

In Genesis 6 God saw that His creation was corrupt and violent and non-repentant. So with a heavy heart he decided to destroy the earth He created. I know it’s with such a heavy heart because of who God is. He says several times in this passage the people “that had the breath of life in them”- which to me sounds like He is reminding us all that we are made in His image and that we have two choices: follow and love Him or suffer eternal separation form Him through death (which would be exactly what we wanted if we don’t love Him anyway).

I know God wanted to display his righteous image-bearers because at the very end of the story of the flood he sends a rainbow and then says, “I have set my bow in the cloud and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and earth… I will remember my covenant… and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh…. whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His OWN Image.”So how does He do it?

Not a quick word of the mouth to speak destruction into existence or a wave of the hand- he uses a mere man and his handiwork through building a boat. I think the great flood symbolizes a tide to wash away sin and begin again. It’s so sad that we constantly tell God through our actions and lack of relationship with Him that we wish to be apart from him as humans. It also symbolizes how tiny and helpless we really are without God. Do we really think that Noah’s boat (although impressive by the way God describes it in His love letter to us) would really save all those animals and his family from a great flood?

I studied about Glacial Lake Missoula from NOVA and a lot of scientists who believe the earth is millions upon millions of years old. They found these large rolling hills in the Northwest that appeared to be giant ripples (like underwater ripples at the beach) on the ground from an aerial view. So they began to study how a glacial lake could’ve exploded to cause what they call a Mega-flood. God’s flood is what I call it- but if you look at thishttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9PL9ZnMy3w and cue it up to 11:30 (excuse me being a humongous dork here)- there is a computer animated version of what a mega-flood of only the Northwest would look like. Can you imagine this happening over the entire earth?

All that to say- Noah’s ark wouldn’t have just survived that because he built it well. God surrounded their family and those animals with protection. I know this because of God’s character, and because in verse 16 of chapter 7 it says “… they went in as God commanded them, and the Lord (their master) shut them in.”

Wow!

But I think Noah may have been scared. It wasn’t just 40 days and 40 nights, a little over a month- that those people were in that ark. It was an entire year. In less than 40 days, the people who had never seen rain saw earth turned into one giant ocean planet– where all the tallest mountains were covered with water and the “fountains of the great deep burst forth” v. 11 of chapter 7. It says that Noah was 600 years old, in the second month on the seventeenth day when this happened. I would have been so scared. I wonder if at times during the 150 days “the waters prevailed upon the face of the earth” how scared Noah and his family were. I mean, in a boat, moving, for 150 days with no sunshine, no ground, no earth to rest on. I’d be crazy in that boat. I’d be asking “Hey God, I know you’ve said you’ll be there, and I took this Giant leap of faith, and sent my family plummeting through the waves crashing in a wooden boat… hey… are You still there??”

My favorite verse in the whole story comes after those 150 crazy days and nights, in verse 1 of chapter 8: “But God remembered Noah…” God remembered! Almost as if to sound (in our finite minds) like God was so busy wreaking havoc upon His creation that He had to stop and “remember” those He promised to spare… but it really shows us how faithful He is to us during times of trial. Whether Noah knew it or not, his teeny little boat was not their saving grace. It says God caused a great wind to blow over the whole earth to dry up the waters. I’m thinking this wind must have also been amazing and powerful- because the ocean’s pretty windy… and I’ve never seen one just dry up. Let alone a whole ocean planet. But He’s God.

It says after those 150 days God caused the ark to rest on Mount Ararat. But before all that happened, after the 40 days and nights were up- the Bible tells us that Noah was sending out birds to test what was going on.

I’m no Bible scholar… but to me it sounds like Noah was trying to take things into his own hands because God had not spoken. How often do we do that? The raven returned, and so did the dove because they had no where to rest their foot. But the second time the dove returned with an olive branch, I think God sent that as a glimmer of hope that there was greenery growing and the waters were subsiding. But no real action is taken until God says so.

Verse 13 of chapter 8 says “In the Six hundred and first year (a whole year later!!) and in the first month, on the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth, and Noah removed the covering to the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month (aka; hello all you readers… it has been a LONG trial for Noah!! Sound familiar??)– the earth had dried out. (Can you imagine how deep the mud had been before- in the first month? If they tried to step out before waiting for God’s command- they’d probably have sunk in too deep.) **here’s my favorite part**– Then GOD said to Noah, ‘Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you.”

God does not go back on His promises. He protects those He loves and He desires all to come to know Him and have a close relationship with Him. He doesn’t want our works or possessions (Cain), or some of our money (Annanias and Saphira)… he wants our hearts. Can you imagine the worship service that broke forth after Noah and all his family got off the ark, saw the new green buds beginning to grow, all the animals roaming around, and that beautiful rainbow in the sky? If that story doesn’t make you want to run to His arms during a time of trial, I don’t know what will. He’s truly a powerful God!

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What you do for the “Lazarus” of These

With Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching… charitable giving is on the brain for lots of us.

Having worked in several churches in my young life– I’ve been told time & time again to be super cautious towards the “scammers”.

I know all about the scam going around last year where an innocent looking woman would enter large church during service hours, and appear a little lost, then make her way into the church’s office and steal one of the staff member’s purse, wallet, or even the offering plates for that week.

Not good. On the other hand are those people who call this time of year and say, “I’m out of work, do you give money for gas?” All with a similar story.

Enter whispers of Jesus.

Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Luke 16:19-31, “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

We went through a lot of financial stress from 2012-2013. There were times we weren’t sure were going to make it. Maybe God allowed me to go through all that because he didn’t want me to be like the rich man in the story of Lazarus once we were doing ok again. We have two large salaries and guess what? We love giving it away. When someone calls and even sounds fishy saying, “hey I have no money for gas because my husband works in the oil field and has been out of paychecks for 2 weeks, but now that he has a job…” I can say, “I feel for YOU. Let me guess, he won’t get a paycheck for the next 2 or more weeks, and you have no idea where the money is going to come from? Hey lady no worries I was just there recently.

Maybe if God hadn’t allowed Jonathan and I to experience want in 2012-2013, I would have said to her. “If your husband HAS a job, why are you calling?” I want to make sure not only does “Lazarus” eat the crumbs at my table, covered in his sores…. and a step further- to sit at my table and eat with me.

Jonathan and I have more to come in the next year about an exciting ministry we are going to do just the two of us. It’s crazy, hairy-audacious-BOLD…. so I can’t share yet. But God laid it on my husband’s heart and he just won’t relent. *Update, God’s still on the move!! More to come! 7/8/14*

So maybe I’ve given tons of scammers money and made a fool of myself. But this middle aged woman staring back at me when I asked her what she needed prayer for did not seem like a con-woman to me. She was literally stuttering because I had asked her to take my card and let me know how I can pray.

I’d rather get to Heaven and see Jesus and say, “oops, I got scammed. Many times..” than, “Jesus my walls were up, I tightly held my money. Fear not: NO ONE got the best of me!”

Does the verse, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” {Matthew 5:39} apply to this? If Jesus isn’t directly clear… I’d rather be outta money than be wrong when I meet Him. The only things we can bring to Heaven with us are souls. Time to get this right. {Tweet this!}

Turn the other cheek. It sucks, but you never know.

Spirit & Truth

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What if we didn’t spend our weeks worrying about the styles of our worship sets?

What if we didn’t waste so much time worrying if people “really do know that song” we selected or if the tempo is fast enough?

What if we didn’t fret about what people will think of our rendition, our voice, our performance, how we looked while we spoke or sang?

What if we spent our time worrying about who we’re discipling and where we’re meeting them for coffee that day?

What if we worried about our hearts and how to bring those congregants along with us in a journey of deeper worship?

What if folks gave that extra measure of grace to “sing a new song” to the Lord?

‘Cause let’s face it: even if a congregation is 90% friends who’ve been through the same eras of popular music and style, the body of Christ is never 100% the same. One song or style can’t please them all.

What if we tried somewhat to pick sing-able tunes, but leave the rest up to our Comforting-Interceding-Holy Spirit who lives closer than our skin?

What would the Church of Christ look like if we laid aside our preferences and lifted up our hearts?

What would our worship leadership look like if we spent our time on the people side, not about how we sound or what “catchy” phrases we’re gonna say on Sunday?

What if we stopped complaining about the sing-ability of the same songs we’d bop around to at a Christian concert?

What if we didn’t have to put everything through the “hymns : choruses”, “fast : slow”, “new : known” ratio test?

What if worship has nothing to do with sound or style or our human preference?

What if God is patiently waiting for all of our hearts and we’re too distracted with people-pleasing and trendiness to give them to Him?

And….. what would it look like if we got this right?

For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24